Do you sometimes catch yourself wondering if you are messing up the usage of me, myself or I and not using these words correctly?
Or do you sometimes hear someone else using one of those words; and somehow their usage doesn’t sound right to you, but you’re not sure who is right, you or that person?
Not to worry! The Grammar Nerd is here to rescue you from the Problem of Pronoun Puzzlement; so that you can use pronouns correctly and confidently in both your writing and speaking, and come across as the educated and authoritative person you really are.
Let’s get rid of the myself Pronoun Puzzle first.
Myself, yourself, himself, herself, ourselves, yourselves and themselves are all reflexive pronouns. In other words, they are only used when reflecting or referring back to the subject of the sentence. For example:
- I was so tired that I had to drag myself out of bed this morning.
- Take good care of yourself. (The word you is understood as this is an imperative or command.)
- They have good reason to be proud of themselves.
Beware these two common examples of when reflexive pronouns are incorrectly used, as they do NOT reflect back to the subject of the sentence:
- Robin and myself are really glad to see you. (Correct usage: Robin and I are really glad to see you.)
- Please get back to John and myself. (Correct usage: Please get back to John and me.)
Clearing up the I and me Pronoun Puzzle.
The word I is a subject pronoun, in other words, it is the subject of a verb.
- Examples: I go there often. I read a lot. I understood what you said.
The word me is an object pronoun, in other words, it is the object of a verb or a preposition.
- Examples: John is taking me to the movies. Sally is coming with me.
The problem is not with simple sentences like these so much as when you need to combine the pronoun I or me with a proper noun, such as a name.
There is a simple trick to figure out which pronoun to use. Simply remove the person’s name and see if the remaining pronoun sounds correct to you.
For example, check out these sentences using the trick I just mentioned.
- John and me are going to the movies. (Or even worse: Me and John are going to the movies.)
- How does this sound to you? Me am going to the movies.
- What sounds, and is, right instead: I am going to the movies. John and I are going to the movies.
- Sally is taking John and I to the movies.
- How does this sound to you? Sally is taking I to the movies.
- What sounds, and is, right instead: Sally is taking me to the movies. Sally is taking John and me to the movies.
These same rules and tricks apply to the combinations of he, him himself; she, her, herself; we, us, ourselves; and they, them, themselves. Since the word you is both a subject and object pronoun, and both singular and plural; the only thing you have to watch out for are those tricky reflexives, yourself and yourselves.
Please let me know if the explanation and tricks I have shared with you have cleared up the Problem of Pronoun Puzzlement for you. After all, as I like to maintain, Good grammar is good business.
Also published on Medium.